A group of House Republicans led by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) introduced the Securing America’s Future Act to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. In addition to making structural reforms and strengthening immigration enforcement, the bill gives amnesty to illegal alien beneficiaries of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. To date, the bill is one of the most serious proposals offered to address the wind down of DACA, which benefited approximately 700,000 illegal aliens.
The Securing America’s Future Act prioritizes merit-based immigration admissions over random or family-based admissions. To accomplish this, the measure eliminates the visa lottery program and laws allowing extended chain migration. The visa lottery currently allocates 50,000 visas annually to applicants at random, with no regard to an applicant’s ability to succeed in the United States, connections to the country, or capacity to contribute to the economy. Laws allowing extended chain migration, on the other hand, permit adult immigrants to petition distant relatives for green cards.
Ending these programs would dramatically shorten the backlog and make admissions into the U.S. more fair, secure, and sustainable. The lottery and chain migration contain no assessment of whether an applicant’s job skills meet any sort of U.S. economic need and does not consider the education, English language ability, or connections to the country. Over time, the combination of these programs have resulted in the admission of hundreds of thousands of immigrants with little or no ties to the United States.
Importantly, the Securing America’s Future Act also takes major steps to strengthen interior enforcement. Specifically, the bill goes after sanctuary cities by authorizing the Justice Department to withhold law enforcement grants from defiant jurisdictions and gives victims of illegal alien crime the ability to sue the cities that released their attackers. It also incorporates Kate’s Law to enhance penalties for deported criminals who illegally reenter to the country. The bill also addresses visa overstays by making illegal presence a federal misdemeanor (illegally crossing the border is already a crime).
Most significantly, however, are the bill’s mandatory E-Verify provisions, that will require all employers in the United States to verify that their new hires are legally eligible to work in the country. This requirement is crucial to minimize the job magnet that draws in hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens every year.
The Securing America’s Future Act also takes substantial steps to secure the border. The bill authorizes border wall construction and increases law enforcement manpower. Importantly, the bill adds 5,000 border patrol agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Patrol officers to ease the staffing shortage burdening officers already in the field. The bill also requires full implementation of a biometric entry-exit system at all air, land, and sea ports of entry and advance technology and infrastructure to keep the border secure.
The proposal also allows illegal aliens who benefitted under President Obama’s DACA program to get a three-year renewable legal status which will allow them to lawfully remain in the United States and receive work and travel authorization. Importantly, the bill does not provide a pathway to citizenship, but recipients of this status may make use of existing immigration benefits that lead to green cards.
While FAIR does not endorse any form of amnesty to illegal aliens, we are encouraged to see Congress take the historic step in considering immigration reforms that prioritize American workers, support the integrity of our immigration system, address the public safety threats inherent in the current system.